Sunday, 17 March 2019

St Luke's Church, Newton Poppleford, Devon

This is just a short post, which is more or less the same as the one in my website article, with just a few more photos and a bit more architectural information. I was going to leave it until I had some interior photos as, although the door was open on this visit I only had a short time until my bus was due, the door being locked on subsequent visits.

Although I intended to go back and try again I'm now sadly quite disabled with Polyarthritis and can't walk well enough to get between the bus stops and places to visit. I had a look to try and find opening times but they aren't available, so just going on the off-chance isn't feasible for the humungous effort it would take. At the moment! We live in hope, lol.

However, it is an interesting Grade II* Listed church in a lovely setting.

St Luke's Church was built in 1331, originally founded as a chantry by Edward III around 1330, and was said to have been built on the site of an ancient (possibly Saxon) chapel. The tower is all that remains of the original 14th century building, and is most unusual with its semi-hexagonal stair turret projecting out from the square tower behind. Built with local stone rubble and sandstone, the quoins and details are of Beerstone. Rebuilt in 1875, the work is also with local stone and Beerstone. The roof is laid with delightful red tiles with bands of scallop-shaped tiles.

These two photos above were taken at the West side of the tower, where the entrance now is after the extensive rebuild of 1875. At that time the nave and chancel were rebuilt beneath a continuous roof. A full-length south aisle was also built beneath a parallel roof of the same height, at which time the new entrance was made.

And below, from the rear.

Showing the use of large pebbles in the flint rubble wall, they can also be seen in the Pebble Buildings page and album of my website...and coming up in the next blog post. Popple is an old Devon word for pebble and the original meaning of Newton Poppleford is 'new town built by a pebble stream'.

Interestingly, one of the earliest written records is the granting of a Royal Charter in 1252, to allow a three-day fair at St Luke’s-tide on the 18th of October, which could explain in part why the church was dedicated to St Luke. 

Monday, 4 March 2019

A Brief Update

Firstly, big apologies for not adding any posts since mid December. I have several articles in draft that I'm working on, including a very long one about Pebble Buildings - following on from the amazing pebble-decorated Park Cottage in my last post - and which is a lot longer than the one on my website. Unfortunately, so much else has been going on since before Christmas that I haven't had chance to finish and publish anything.

I'm also working on an index page, which is a bit laborious, but will be useful to see and link to all the places I've written about under their specific categories, like the Site Visits page on my website.

Next up, though, will be a short post about St Luke's Church in Newton Poppleford, which is also briefly included in the Pebble Buildings post.

I haven't been on any jaunts for a while but I've had the odd walk-about with my camera since late Summer last year, so I've added a few photos from those on this post...just for something different! ;)

See you soon, all being well. :)

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Park Cottage, Seaton, Devon

As is often the way, it isn't until looking for something specific that you suddenly see it everywhere. When I began a project to find pebble-built and decorated buildings I thought the best examples would be found within the pebble bed heathland area...which would mean a bit of travelling further afield. However, pebbles have been used quite extensively in the construction of older buildings and walls around my home town of Seaton. Mind, there were gravel pits in the area in which pebbles were also found and extracted, as well as a pebble beach. So, it shouldn't really come as a surprise to find their usefulness as building materials here too.

What was a surprise however, was finding this amazing house. Taking my camera out for a walk around the town in order to look at walls (I might be a little strange but I'm not dangerous, honest!) I couldn't believe my luck when I came across it. What surprised me even more is that I must have walked by loads of times and never really noticed it before.

Originally called Parklands, Park Cottage is a delightful Cottage Orne style house, built sometime in the latter part of the 1800s or early 1900.

The photo above shows the wonderfully quirky gate and pebble-encrusted pillars of the front garden entrance. Below is the east elevation where a pebble facing has been used to create interesting shapes out of the plaster beneath. From the photo it looks a bit 'pebble-dash', but they really are quite large pebbles...or popples, which is the Devon colloquial name for them.


On my second tour past the house, after taking photos from all sides, the owner happened to be in the garden. I asked him if he knew anything about it's history and he very kindly showed me a book with pics and information about the house, and also allowed me to take some photos inside the garden.

I borrowed the book from the local library, which was interesting with it's 'before and after' pictures, but the info was of the family that originally lived there and not about the building itself.

Above, one of the photos I took in the garden, showing pebble-topped curly walls and pebble diamond shapes in the path. I love the diamond patterned bricks on the steps. We had a brick path like that in the garden of the house where I grew up, and it's quite rare to see them these days.

The diamond shaped insets and a straight line of pebbles across the plain concrete path in the above photo.

The boundary wall consists of local chert, also topped with pebbles.

I was surprised to find that Park Cottage isn't in the listed buildings register. The frontage, above, consists of two pitched gables above the upper storey windows, decorated with scalloped hung tiles, and decorative ridge tiles on the roof. A Cottage Orne veranda comprises part of the front entrance.


Above can be seen a view of the northern rear and west side. Below, the western elevation, with it's pebble design.

And finally, another view of the lovely gate and fairytale pillars.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Southern Cross Tea Rooms, Newton Poppleford, Devon

I took these photos in July 2009, and didn't really intend to do anything specific with them at the time. A few years later I did some research for a project involving pebble buildings in East Devon and this building came to my attention as having a pebble wall. So, I checked out my photos to see if I had the said wall. I didn't find anything conclusive, but decided to scan them anyway and have a look to see if the building has any interesting history.

Interestingly, it's been a tea room for more than 50 years. Founded in the 1950s by the Irish actress Eileen McKenna, she had a trademark of the 'clotted cream mountain', which was a super-sized version of the traditional Devon Cream Tea comprising scones lathered in jam and clotted cream together with a pot of tea...and if you could eat one massive confection, you received another one free!  Apparently, some of the celebrities who dined there included Bruce Forsyth and Prince Edward. The challenge remained for four decades during her tenure.

A Grade II listed building, it was built in the early 18th century, modernised in C19 and extended during the 20th century. The building is plastered cob on stone rubble footings, topped with brick and a thatched roof.

Something I did discover, is that from the rear corners the high garden walls were made from local large river cobbles. Newton Poppleford is taken from the Saxon words for 'new town by a pebble stream'...popples being an old Devon name for pebbles.

I only visited here once, but it holds a special place in my heart. I was just coming out of an especially dark time in my life, and chilling out in the garden with coffee (I can't remember if I had a cream tea, but it would be nice to think that I did!) coincided with the start of much happier times.

The photo above shows a wall, which may be one of the pebble walls indicated...although it's difficult to ascertain, as there's not much of it visible, and it's been painted white. Below is a photo of the front. It was difficult to get a decent photo, as it's on the busy A3052 road to Exeter. Hopefully, I'll be visiting the village again in order to look for more pebble buildings, at which time I might get some more photos of the tea rooms too...and treat myself to a cream tea! :)

The Village Hall, Newton Poppleford, Devon

Tucked away between and behind the houses on Station Road is this delightful building, the Village Hall. I was unable to discover it's history or anything about it at the time, as it doesn't appear to be a Listed Building.  Fortunately, a gentleman from the Newton Poppleford History Group kindly sent me some information; the rest is some research and a little architectural detective work of my own.

The main body of the building was thought to have been constructed using bricks that came from the site of the old silk mill, which was demolished just before the turn of the 19th century, and the front of the building was added later and paid for by a wealthy local; the iron work came from the local blacksmith who was situated next door.

The frontage is in the Arts & Craft style of the Edwardian era, although if it was added much later it may be the Revived style of the 1930s. However, the features appear to fit the former style more accurately, with it's prominent front gables, mock timber, long row of mullion windows with diamond panes and protruding window frame. The door is wide and is recessed beneath a porch. The upper storey is jettisoned on brackets to emulate a Tudor building.

Looking at the side reveals the difference between the front and the rest of the building. It's interesting to see the contrast between the varying materials of the stone rubble steps, white painted pebble dash and bright red bricks.

As shown in the photos above and below; the rear section, with it's lovely red brick. Not only the fabric of the building, but the style itself is altogether different. Although the silk mill was situated elsewhere, the only remains being the field where it stood, it looks as if it may have been rebuilt in a similar fashion to the mill. The frontage may have been added later. I really like the rounded windows, especially the long one.

Although a story is beginning to reveal itself, it's still a bit of a conundrum, but that's what I love about buildings that have developed and changed over time.